Monday, August 21, 2017

CPP/NPA-Southern Tagalog: Kabiguan ng SOLCOM, tiyak pa rin sa pamumuno ni Madrigal

NPA-Southern Tagalog propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Aug 19): Kabiguan ng SOLCOM, tiyak pa rin sa pamumuno ni Madrigal

Jaime “Ka Diego” Padilla, Spokesperson
NPA-Southern Tagalog (Melito Glor Command)

19 August 2017

Ang pagkakaupo kahapon ni Maj. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal bilang bagong hepe ng Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) ng Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) ay patunay ng paulit-ulit na kabiguan ng AFP na kitilin ang nag-aalab na pakikibaka ng rebolusyonaryong mamamayan sa Timog Katagalugan. Hindi magtatagumpay ang SOLCOM na lipulin ang NPA sa rehiyon kahit ilan pang mukha ng mga berdugong heneral ang ipalit sa pamumuno nito.

Isang malaking kasinungalingan ang pahayag ni Madrigal hinggil sa papaunting bilang ng mga Pulang Mandirigma ng NPA sa rehiyon. Patunay dito ang patuloy na paglakas ng NPA sa buong rehiyon sa kabila ng marahas na pagtugis ng AFP. Nagpapatuloy ang pag-aarmas at pag-aaklas ng sambayanang Pilipino sa Timog Katagalugan dahil sa patuloy na kahirapang pinalalala ng mga atrosidad ng AFP laban sa nakikibakang mamamayan.

Sa pamumuno ni Madrigal, kahaharapin niya ang galit at dumadaluyong na lakas ng mamamayan sa rehiyon laban sa mersenaryong tradisyon ng AFP. Ito ang nagsisilbing mitsa sa patuloy na pagdami ng bilang ng mga Pulang Hukbo at ibayong pagdaluyong ng rebolusyonaryong kilusan sa Timog Katagalugan. Tiyak na mabibigo ang SOLCOM at muling mailalagay sa basurahan ng kasaysayan.###

Wakasan ang All-out War ng Rehimeng US-Duterte!
Biguin ang Oplan Kapayapaan!

NPA-Negros boosts capability in launching armed struggle

From the Visayan Daily Star (Aug 21): NPA-Negros boosts capability in launching armed struggle

Ka Juanito Magbanua, spokesperson of the Apolinario Gatmaitan Command of NPA-Negros, claimed Friday that the 16 military actions carried out by the New People's Army in Negros Island, including the ambush of policemen in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, in the past six months, “demonstrate the NPA's increasing capability in launching armed struggle”.

In a statement dated Aug. 18, Magbanua also said they recovered 10 high-powered firearms, 15 short firearms, assorted ammunition and war materials.

He added that the NPA also successfully implemented punitive measures against 14 land-grabbers, criminal elements, and intelligence assets of the 303rd Brigade.

Magbanua also said that their tactical offensive in Guihulngan City was long overdue in the face of the clamor of the revolutionary masses to punish the PNP unit he accused of committing extra-judicial killings against civilians, among others.

In all the offensive and defensive actions, they suffered only one slightly injured Red fighter, he also said.

He also reported that in the last six months, the NPA Regional Operational Command also conducted two politico-military trainings, aimed at improving the fighting skill, political capability, and combat discipline of its commanders and Red fighters, with 94 graduates.

Eighty percent of the trainees are aged 18 to 30, he added.

These trainings provide added impetus for Red commanders and fighters to better implement the Party's three-year program aimed at, among others, building more and bigger NPA formations at all levels, intensifying armed tactical offensives to seize arms and other military equipment, mainly from the AFP/PNP, and waging an extensive and intensive guerrilla warfare, the statement of Magbanua added.

AFP chief Año to be senior aide in charge of DILG

From Rappler (Aug 22): AFP chief Año to be senior aide in charge of DILG

The AFP chief cannot yet take charge as DILG secretary because the law prohibits a retired military or police official from taking on the post at least a year after leaving his commissioned post

While he cannot yet appoint Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief General Eduardo Año as interior secretary, President Rodrigo Duterte will make him a "senior aide" under the Office of the President.

Another option is to make Año an "undersecretary," Duterte said on Monday, August 21, during a dinner with media at the Malacañang Golf Club.

Año, in this post Duterte envisions, will have all the "responsibilities and mandate" to fulfill the functions of a Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) chief.

The AFP chief will hold this post until after October 2018, or one year after he retires from the military.

While Duterte announced Año's appointment as the next DILG chief way back in May, the AFP chief cannot take on the post until a year after his mandatory retirement, based on Republic Act 6975. (READ: Why Duterte can't appoint AFP chief Año as next DILG chief)

DILG officer-in-charge Catalino Cuy will stay in his post until Año can take over as secretary. After this, Cuy will go back to being a DILG undersecretary, said Duterte.

Año, a veteran intelligence officer and a 1983 graduate of the Philippine Military Academy, is set to retire in October this year. He was supposed to retire early as he was being eyed to take over the DILG in June, but when local terror groups attacked Marawi City in May, Año was designated the implementor of martial law declared over the entire island of Mindanao.

Año's appointment to the DILG would be a second for a retired military general in the department, after the late Angelo Reyes, who was DILG secretary under the Arroyo administration.

Duterte: Why should I defend West PH Sea sandbar?

From Rappler (Aug 22): Duterte: Why should I defend West PH Sea sandbar?

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says the presence of Chinese ships in Sandy Cay near Pag-asa Island does not count as 'invasion'

'NO INVASION.' President Rodrigo Duterte, over dinner with media on August 21, 2017, answers questions about Sandy Cay and the presence of Chinese ships there. Photo by Pia Ranada/Rappler

'NO INVASION.' President Rodrigo Duterte, over dinner with media on August 21, 2017, answers questions about Sandy Cay and the presence of Chinese ships there. Photo by Pia Ranada/Rappler

Why should he risk warmer ties with China for a lowly sandbar in the West Philippine Sea?

This was President Rodrigo Duterte's response when asked if he would protest the presence of Chinese ships in Sandy Cay, a sandbar near Pag-asa Island (Thitu Island) in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

"Why should I defend a sandbar and kill the Filipinos because of a sandbar?" said Duterte on Monday night, August 21, during a dinner with media at the Malacañang grounds.

Supreme Court (SC) Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio earlier described the presence of Chinese ships as "invasion of Philippine territory."

Duterte, however, said the incident does not count as invasion and that the Chinese ships are there to "patrol" since "we are friends."

"Anong invade? Hindi naman totoo 'yung sinasabi na ano (What invade? It's not true, what they are saying). They are just there but they are not claiming anything," said Duterte.

He received assurance from Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua and China's Foreign Ministry that Beijing will not build any structures in Sandy Cay. This, for the moment, is enough for him.

"China assured me that they will not build anything there. I called the Ambassador, I said, when I read – (They said) 'We will assure you that we are not building anywhere there,'" said Duterte.

He also ruled out filing a diplomatic protest, as suggested by Carpio. (READ: Ex-DFA chief hits Duterte over 'selling' West PH Sea islands)

As to the claim that the Chinese ships prevented a Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) vessel from approaching Sandy Cay, Duterte said this is false.

"That is not true. China would not do that," said Duterte.

Sandy Cay's importance
Carpio, in a statement, explained why Sandy Cay is not just any sandbar. Dredging by China of nearby Subi Reef caused pulverized corals to drift toward this sandbar, making it appear permanently above water at high-tide – a feature called a high-tide elevation.

As such, Sandy Cay is now land or territory "capable of sovereign ownership with its own territorial sea and territorial airspace," said Carpio.

Why would China want to claim Sandy Cay?

Carpio wrote, "If China acquires sovereignty over Sandy Cay, it can now claim Subi Reef as part of the territorial sea of Sandy Cay, legitimizing China's claim over Subi Reef and removing Subi Reef from the continental shelf of the Philippines."

Told about this, Duterte said Carpio was only "speculating" but that any attempts by China to claim Sandy Cay would lead to a confrontation.

"Well, we can always do it also. [Carpio] is speculating. We can also speculate that, one day, if they do that, sandbar 'yan na malapit sa atin, eh 'di mag-away na (it's a sandbar near us, so let's fight)," said the President.

He will only continue to "believe" in China if it does not violate the "agreement" with the Philippines – that Filipino fishermen be allowed to fish in the West Philippine Sea and that China refrain from building any structures on islands or features being claimed by the Philippines.

But if there is a violation and the Philippines confronts China, Duterte will not invoke the Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States which requires its military to come to the aid of the Philippines.

"I will not call on America. I have lost trust in the Americans," said Duterte.

2 NPA supporters nabbed

From the Mindanao Times (Aug 21): 2 NPA supporters nabbed

TWO SUPPORTERS of the New People’s Army (NPA) were arrested by government troopers in Alabel, Sarangani aroud 4:30 a.m. on Saturday.

Capt. Rhyan Batchar, spokesperson of 10th Infantry Division, identified the suspects as Sixto Tio and Rodrigo Pendaton alias Ka Digoy, both residents of Sitio Ihan, Barangay Datal Anggas, Alabel.
Batchar said the suspects were apprehended when the 73IB soldiers, together with agents of the Alabel police, implemented the search warrant nos. 03-17 and 04-17 for violation of Republic Act 10591 (firearm and explosive law) issued by judge Bill Lugo Barley of Regional Trial Court Branch 38.

They confiscated a caliber .30 M1 garand rifle with three clips and nine ammunition rounds from Tio.

A caliber .45 pistol with one magazine and six ammunition rounds was also taken from Pendaton.

Batchar said the two suspects are known NPA supporters in the town.

Troops sent to hunt down Sayyaf raiders in Basilan province

From the Mindanao Examiner (Aug 21): Troops sent to hunt down Sayyaf raiders in Basilan province

Security forces were deployed on Monday to pursue Abu Sayyaf militants who raided a village in the restive Muslim province of Basilan in southern Philippines, an army spokesperson said.

Captain Jo-ann Petinglay, of the Western Mindanao Command, said troops will not stop in the hunt for militants, blamed by authorities for the spate of deadly attacks in the province.

She said at least 9 people were reported dead in the attack in Maluso town. The raid left at least 9 people injured. Other reports said as many as 30 people were injured in the attack by about 40 gunmen in the village of Tubigan.

Petinglay said pro-government militias and soldiers from the 68th Infantry Battalion clashed with the militants who were forced to withdraw, but not after they burned at least 5 houses and a multi-purpose hall.

“Heavy firefight ensued forcing the armed group to extricate from the area after almost two hours, with the reinforcing soldiers of the 68th Infantry Battalion and policemen pursuing them,” she said.

She said prior to the raid, troops captured August 19 an Abu Sayyaf encampment in Mangalut village in Akbar town where militants assembled improvised explosives. The area, she added, was being used by militant leader Nurhassan Jamiri. Soldiers also recovered assorted materials in the manufacture of improvised explosives, including rifle magazines, cell phones, batteries and solar panels.

Troops pursuing militants, who escaped the military raid, caught up with them the next day and killed 3 gunmen – Omar Abdurahim, Kahim Jovel Indanan and Ekram Alam – in the fighting. At least 5 others, Abduhari Kabus, Boy Idris, Hasan Kabus, Mammang and Jaber Sali, were also wounded in the clash but they managed to escape.

Military photos released to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner show assorted materials used in the manufacture of improvised explosives by the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan province in southern Philippines. Troops captured an Abu Sayyaf encampment in Akbar town.
Military photos released to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner show assorted materials used in the manufacture of improvised explosives by the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan province in southern Philippines. Troops captured an Abu Sayyaf encampment in Akbar town.



Army captures 2 commies in Sultan Kudarat

From the Mindanao Examiner (Aug 21): Army captures 2 commies in Sultan Kudarat

Government troops captured 2 communist rebels following a clash in Sultan Kudarat province in southern Philippines, officials said on Monday.

Officials said patrolling soldiers from the 33rd Infantry Battalion ran into a group of New People’s Army rebels in Laguilayan village and firefight ensued. The weekend fighting resulted in the capture of Bago Otig Bantali and Ben Apa.

Soldiers also seized from the duo an M16 automatic rifle, a fragmentation grenade and an improvised explosive, according to Captain Arvin Encinas, a spokesman for the 6th Infantry Division.

He said there was no report of military casualties. Encinas also quoted Major General Arnel dela Vega, the division commander, as saying: “I am glad that our government security forces had pre-empted terroristic attacks of different armed lawless groups against peaceful communities.”

Dela Vega said continuous support of civilians in providing information about possible acts of violence shows huge public support on the military in its peace and development efforts in the region. The NPA has been waging a secessionist war for decades now.

Soldiers launch new ‘war’ in besieged city of Marawi

From the Mindanao Examiner (Aug 21): Soldiers launch new ‘war’ in besieged city of Marawi

Military photos released to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner show soldiers and cops cleaning streets in the besieged city of Marawi in southern Philippines.

Military photos released to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner show soldiers and cops cleaning streets in the besieged city of Marawi in southern Philippines.

MARAWI CITY – Dozens of soldiers and policemen fighting local ISIS in Marawi City in southern Philippines have laid down their rifles and armed themselves with new weapons – broom sticks, grass cutters and paint – and launched a war in a new mission and that is to clean the grimy and ruined streets of the besieged city.

Utilizing all the Civil Military Operations units available, some 80 cops and soldiers started tidying what was left of the fighting after Daesh-inspired terror group stormed and destroyed the city since May this year.

Dubbed as “Kaplimpiyo tano ko Kalilintad” which literally means “Maglinis tayo para sa Kapayapaan”, the troops cleaned several roads in the villages of Emie, Matampay, Sarimanok, Marawi and Malalat which had been cleared and taken over by security forces from the militants, although sporadic clashes still continue in other parts of the city.

The clean-up drive was initiated by the Joint Task Force Tabang headed by Colonel Thomas Sedano. “We will do it little by little since we lack manpower for the purpose, however, we will make sure that these streets will not look as grubby and filthy as how it appeared to be before we started cleaning up,” Sedano said, adding, “our primary intention is to avoid an epidemic that could plague our communities by the time residents of Marawi will be allowed to come back.”

Aside from the filthy streets, the soldiers and policemen also cleaned mosques in the villages of Lilod and Tulali. Over a dozen local policemen and a team of soldiers cleaned and made minor repairs of the Saad Huzam Almusairi Masjid. The clean-up drive in mosques was an initiative of the Joint Task Group PNP headed by Senior Superintendent Rolando Anduyan.

“We deployed our Maranao policemen for this purpose to specifically address cultural sensitivity issues. They are the proper persons who know how to do the job without violating religious practices and beliefs,” Anduyan said.

Brigadier General Joselito Bautista, commander of the Joint Task Force Marawi, said the clean-up campaign will continue in areas under the control of the military as part of its civic and humanitarian efforts. “We will continue doing this in partnership with the police so that mosques that have been preserved will be able to cater Muslim believers immediately by the time we give a green light for soldiers to go back to their homes,” he said.

Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez, chief if the Western Mindanao Command, said as fighting continues in downtown Marawi, thousands of soldiers and policemen are also engaged in different rehabilitation projects that are already underway. “Your uniformed troops will be continually involved in rehabilitation activities within and outside Marawi City. We know that people are already asking when they can come back to their homes, we hope they will understand that their soldiers and policemen are doing our best to finish the fighting the soonest so that they can go home finally,” he said.

Galvez said the activities intend to prepare the area for the return of civilians displaced by war. “We hope the clean-up drive will somehow alleviate how they feel when they go back to a place which was torn by war and fighting,” he said.

Much of Marawi had been destroyed by air strikes and artillery fire, especially in areas where militants have taken cover with their hostages.

TFBM member-agencies to fast track Marawi recovery

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 21): TFBM member-agencies to fast track Marawi recovery

Iligan City - To harmonize all the efforts of the member-agencies of Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM), a meeting was held here on Friday, Aug. 18, to discuss the status of the projects implemented by the different agencies to help Marawi City rise from the rubbles following the attack of IS-linked Maute group last May 23.

Key officials from the national government agencies (NGAs), Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), and the local government units (LGUs) of Lanao del Sur, Marawi City and Iligan City came to participate in the said meeting.

Marawi City Mayor Majul Gamdamra bared that the 11 hectare-lot, where the 7,692 units of temporary shelters for internally displaced persons (IDPs) will be built, is now ready.

The National Housing Authority (NHA), on the other hand, has targeted to start the construction of the temporary shelters for the IDPs on Sept. 8 while Undersecretary Cariza Sequerra, chairperson of the National Youth Commission (NYC), recommended that elementary and secondary schools be established in the relocation sites.

In the same meeting, it was learned that the Mindanao State University (MSU) in Marawi City would officially open its classes for this school year on Aug. 22. With this, Undersecretary Austere Panadero of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has assured that the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the military look after the safety of the students and teachers of the university.

Moreover, Undersecretary Hope Hervilla of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) reported that the DSWD personnel have continued attending to all IDPs both at the evacuation centers and home-based.

Statistics based on the Disaster Assistance Family Access Card (DAFAC) issued by the DSWD showed that the Marawi siege had affected 78,466 families, 51 percent of these sought refuge in region 10 and 45 percent in ARMM. The rest went to regions 6,7,9, 11, 12 and CARAGA.

Defense Undersecretary Cesar B. Yano, TFBM executive director, presided over the meeting with Lanao del Sur Vice Governor Bombit Alonto Adiong, Marawi City Mayor Majul Gamdamra as well as representatives from DILG, NHA, NYC, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Housing and Urban Coordinating Council (HUDCC), Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Office of Civil Defense (OCD), Philippine Army (PA) and other member-agencies of TFBM’s seven sub-committees on reconstruction, housing, health and social services, business and livelihood, peace and order, information management and strategic communications, and finance and resource mobilization support group.

“Tagapanguna” troopers cited for their commitment, dedication to duty

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 21): “Tagapanguna” troopers cited for their commitment, dedication to duty

The 1st Cavalry (Tagapanguna) Squadron, Mechanized Infantry Division, Philippine Army on Wednesday celebrated the birth of its historic and proud unit.

It is part of the operation control (OPCON) unit of the 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division since its inception in August 16, 1976 and rose through humble beginnings.

LtCol Dennis Caña, 1CAV commanding officer said, “we commemorate our anniversary because we want to celebrate the glory and sacrifices of our unit.”

Caña cited the soldiers for their significant contributions in the maintenance of peace and stability as they performed their their duties with dedication, efficiency and determination and their commitment to serve our nation selflessly.

“We are grateful to our soldiers for what they have done for our country and for making us who we are today,” Cana proudly announced.

The commanding officer said the unit is working from Luzon and Mindanao and fought against all the enemies to protect our nation from the threat of lawless elements.

“Our shared history is not just in our names but more on blood and sacrifices and our desire to serve the nation through time, as we fought our enemies in Sulu, Basilan , Zamboanga and now in Marawi City,” he said.

He also encouraged the soldiers to be always prepared for the biggest battle is yet to come because warfare continue to evolve.

“I urge you to be patriotic, dedicated and professional soldiers. We should always be the first and the best in everything we do,” he added.

Meanwhile, Mayor Eduardo Relacion, the event’s guest of honor and speaker said the role of the local government unit (LGU) in the maintenance of peace and order is very important.

Relacion said the LGU is cooperating actively with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the 1st Cavalry Squadron saying that they are the true defenders and protectors of our democracy.

“We are very blessed and grateful that the 1st Infantry Division and 1st Cavalry Squadron are located within the perimeter of our municipality. We are secured because of their presence,” he concluded.

Cops feed barrio kids to promote peace

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 21): Cops feed barrio kids to promote peace

LAOAG CITY - When four-year-old Leighren Ramil saw a police patrol vehicle approaching, she tried to hid herself at the skirt of her grandmother, Nelda, in a rural village of Abkir, about 11 kilometers from this city.

On a nice weather, the trip going in and out to Abkir via a tricycle, a common public transport here, is less than 30 minutes. Its almost two-kilometer provincial road connecting the national highway through its neighboring Bacarra town remains unpaved. Should one decide to go to Vintar town proper, one has to pass through the Bislak river, the shortest route when going to the municipal presidencia (town hall).

As the mode of public transport is limited in the village, some Abkir residents prefer to bring their single motorcycle with them as they pay a minimum of PHP10 pesos when crossing the river on a rakit or bamboo raft.

During rainy days and the river swells, villagers have no other way but to pass by the 1.80-kilometer dirt road with shallow to deep potholes.

In a recent visit of a team from the Ilocos Norte Provincial Public Safety Command along with its municipal counterparts to promote peace and counter anti-terrorism threats in the barrio, they met with villagers and offered food to at least 21 Day Care pupils of Abkir Child Development Center.

As the men and women in uniform entered the village, several children run to their mothers as if they were being chased by the police.

“She (Leighren) has been like that every time she sees a man in camouflage carrying firearms on the sides,” said Lola Nelda, Leighren’s guardian since her mother went to Taiwan when she was still a baby.

Lola Nelda said she has to take care of her apo as Leighren’s mother never came back nor called her husband and children left in the village since then.

As part of promoting peace in local communities, the Community Action Team’s outreach program under the Ilocos Norte Provincial Public Safety Command led by Police Superintendent Amador Quiocho, Company Commander, has pre-identified Day Care pupils in rural villages in the entire province of Ilocos Norte as beneficiaries of a feeding and gift-giving project.

Sergeant Noel Abad, chief of the Police Community Relations (PCR) of the INPPSC said the feeding and gift-giving project is meant to establish closer ties with local communities against anti-terrorism threats.

Running for two years now, the police community action team had been feeding village children as they also conduct public safety dialogues with parents and local officials in the area.

The funding came from various fundraising activities initiated by the INPPSC PCR such as fun run events, raffle draws and shoot fests.

Abad said they hope to sustain the program and help more children in the village.

During the distribution of the children’s merienda, which consists of hamburger, spaghetti and fruit juice inside the classroom, seatmates Josh Michael Pantua and Mhira Thea Agpaoa, who were seated at the back of the classroom were aloof to police officers visiting them.

They remained still at the back until a lady in uniform approached and offered them food. Their faces lit up a bit as they recognize the food from a popular fast food chain in the city.

“We like to serve them quality food, something that we know they like to order if they are near the city. Aside from the fact that it is more convenient for us to just buy and take out from the store, it is also an opportunity for children in remote villages to experience and taste food which is only available in the city,” Abad said.

He also underscored the fact that police should not be perceived by children as the enemy but as a protector or a friend.

He likewise appealed to parents and elders in the village not to introduce them as ‘bad cops’ whenever their children are misbehaving. Over the years, elders used to threaten barrio children with cops to come after them if they are naughty.

Aside from the feeding and distribution of school supplies to selected beneficiaries, each parent or guardian were also given fruit bearing trees as part of the INPPSC’s “share a tree” project.

Instead of organizing tree planting programs, Abad said they prefer to distribute fruit bearing trees to the locals and let them grow in their own backyards.

“That way, we are sure the plants that we give are properly nurtured and they will always remember by heart, who gave it to them,” Abad said.

Troops overrun Abu Sayyaf camps

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 21): Troops overrun Abu Sayyaf camps

Zamboanga City - Government troops have overran two Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) encampments, including one that serves as improvised bomb factory, in the hinterlands of Basilan province, military officials announced Monday.

Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, said the troops captured the two ASG encampments on Sunday, a day after they launched an offensive against the Abu Sayyaf bandits.

Galvez said the camps located in Barangay Mangalut in the town of Akbar belong to the group of Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf leader Nurhassan Jamiri.

He said the troops have recovered several improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and bomb-making components from the two fallen ASG camps.

Col. Juvymax Uy, Joint Task Force Basilan commander, said they launched the offensive starting Saturday following intelligence report on the presence of the ASG bomb-making factory in the area.

Uy said five Abu Sayyaf bandits were killed in the ensuing firefight when the troops swooped down the ASG camps.

He disclosed the bandits plan to stage bombings in the cities of Isabela and Lamitan, the two growth areas in Basilan province.

He said the troops are pursuing the Abu Sayyaf bandits who fled to the Barangays Buton and Seronggon in nearby municipality of Mohammad Ajul.

“Our Joint Task Forces are committed in intensifying the offensives to neutralize the remaining Abu Sayyaf bandits, who are on the run now. This operational accomplishment is attributed to our soldiers on the ground who made this possible,” Galvez said.

Marines hold outreach program for Palawan IPs

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 21): Marines hold outreach program for Palawan IPs

Government troops in southern Palawan on Sunday brought humanitarian aid to tribal communities affected by military operations against the New People's Army (NPA).

Captain Wanel Ansa, environment management and civil military officer of the Marine Battalion Landing Team-4 (MBLT-4), said Monday that the "All-in-One Outreach Program” benefited more than 400 Pala'wan indigenous peoples (IPs) in Sitio Kamantian, Barangay Samariñana, Brooke’s Point, southern Palawan.

“The warm welcome of our Pala'wan IP brothers only proves that they no longer want the CPP-NPA-NDF’s intrusion in their communities because they only make life hard for their peaceful way of life,” Ansa told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

It can be recalled that in June this year, troops belonging to MBLT-4 under the Joint Task Group South (JTGS), overran a drill camp of the NPA in Barangay Samariñana.

MBLT-4 commanding officer, Lt. Col. Danilo Facundo, said that the overran camp was used for marksmanship training of NPA members.

The humanitarian aid provided for the Pala'wan tribes includes free medical check-up, feeding program, gift-giving from Brooke’s Point Mayor Mary Jean Feliciano’s office, anti-rabies vaccination, distribution of vegetable seeds, distribution of medicines and vitamins for domestic animals, and distribution of treated bed nets against malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

Ansa added that the outreach activity also paved the way for the conduct of a site survey for a proposed water system project in Kamantian that already has an allocated budget from the local government.

Around 16 domestic goats were also distributed to the Pala'wan IP beneficiaries as alternative livelihood, said Ansa.

“These native goats can be farmed by the beneficiaries to be source of additional income for their families,” he said.

The humanitarian outreach program was conducted In partnership with the local government of Brooke’s Point, Rural Health Unit (RHU), Municipal Engineering Office (MEO), Municipal Registrar Office (MRO), PhilHealth, Nutrition Office, Agriculture Office, and other stakeholders.

Government troops have so far overran three major encampments of the NPA -- two of these were allegedly used to train members to manufacture improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and 12 gauge shotguns.

Abandoned bag inside bus yields firearms

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 21): Abandoned bag inside bus yields firearms

A bag left inside the compartment of a provincial bus containing several firearms and ammunition, was intercepted at the Task Force Davao checkpoint in Licanan, Lasang, Davao City Monday.

The firearms were discovered during an inspection when the bomb-sniffing dog sat on the bag prompting Task Force (TF) Davao to ask for assistance from the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team, which used water disruption, making sure any explosive device not to function.

Davao City Police Office (DCPO) spokesperson Sr. Insp. Ma Theresa Gaspan said the bag was placed inside the Bachelor Bus bearing plate number WOY113 coming from Tagum City heading to Davao City.

Gaspan said the bag contained seven caliber .45 pistol with six empty magazines and one UZi sub machine gun with three magazines and silencer.

Based on initial investigation, Gaspan said the bus actually came from Tacloban. The bus driver, Marcos Aninon, said he only had two stops during the travel – in Tacloban and Lipata, Surigao, where they accepted cargoes.

Aninon said he had other stops but only to unload cargoes. As this developed, the bus passengers were brought to the Bunawan Police Station for questioning. Of the 27 passengers based on the number of ticket issued, only 26 passengers appeared.

The police are now on the look-out for the 27th passenger.

Man selling bomb-making components nabbed

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 21): Man selling bomb-making components nabbed

Zamboanga City - Police have placed under investigation a man they arrested in possession of bomb-making components in a coastal village of this city, a top police official said Monday.

Arrested in a law enforcement operation was Pagal Nasang Aliapan, 35, a resident of of Malamawi Island, Isabela City, Basilan province.

Aliapan is allegedly involved in the illegal sale of bomb-making components.

Chief Supt. Billy Beltran, Police Regional Office-9 (PRO-9) director, said Aliapan was arrested at around 1 p.m. Sunday at his temporary residence in Arena Blanco, a coastal barangay in this city.

Beltran disclosed that Aliapan was arrested after he sold bomb-making component in exchange for PhP500 to an undercover policeman.

He said confiscated from the residence of Aliapan were the following: 75 pieces of blasting caps; 17 pieces detonating cords; three plastic bags of one kilo ammonium nitrate; 10 plastic bags of half kilo; 15 sacks of 25 kilos ammonium nitrates; one electrical cutter; and, P500 mark money.

He said Aliapan was detained at the headquarters of Police Station 6 for proper disposition.

Beltran lauded the arresting team of policemen for a job well-done and commended the efforts of community for providing information which led to the arrest of the suspect.

Abu Sayyaf attacks Basilan village: 6 dead

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 21): Abu Sayyaf attacks Basilan village: 6 dead

Government troops are pursuing a group of Abu Sayyaf bandits who killed six people when they attacked early Monday a village in Basilan province.

A dozen others, including two children, were wounded in the attack.

The attack happened at around 5:30 a.m. Monday in Barangay Tubigan, Maluso while most of the residents are still asleep, the military reported.

The village of Tubigan is set to celebrate its fiesta on August 22.

Col. Juvymax Uy, Joint Task Force Basilan commander, said troops stationed nearby immediately responded backing a handful of militiamen and Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPAT) members who put up a fight against the Abu Sayyaf attackers.

Uy said the Abu Sayyaf bandits withdrew towards the hinterlands upon sensing the arrival of reinforcement.

Jordan Garcia, 24, said they saw a group of heavily armed gunmen clad in fatigue uniform that arrived on foot and converged at the barangay covered court before the attack.

Garcia said the gunmen, which were estimated to be over a hundred, positioned themselves and opened fire towards the cluster of houses that awakened the residents, who ran for safety.

The gunmen also set on fire some of the houses and the health center.

Garcia said he and his driver, who died from a head shot, were loading sawn lumber into a truck for transport at the time the gunmen arrived.

Garcia, who was hit in the leg, is among the 11 victims, including two children, who were transferred to a medical facility in this city after they received initial medication in Isabela City hospital.

They arrived in batches aboard commercial ferry plying the Zamboanga-Basilan route via Isabela City.

One of the six slain victim was identified as Reynaldo Esparcia, 50, one of the militiamen who put up a fight against the bandit-attackers.

Monday’s incident was the second attack in Barangay Tubigan, Maluso by the Abu Sayyaf bandits.

The first attack was on February 27, 2010 by 70 Abu Sayyaf bandits, setting fire to homes and killing at least 11 people.

Troops rescue Vietnamese sailor in Basilan

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 21): Troops rescue Vietnamese sailor in Basilan

Government troops have safely rescued a Vietnamese sailor seized by Abu Sayyaf bandit more than nine months ago off Basilan province, a top military official announced Monday.

Rescued was Do Trung Huiqe, a crew of the Vietnamese bulk carrier, M/V Royal 16.

Rear Adm. Rene Medina, Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) command chief, said Huiqe was rescued on Sunday in Mataja Island, Lantawan, Basilan province.

Medina said the troops were on special intelligence operation when they safely rescued Huiqe.

Medina said no firefight ensued as the Abu Sayyaf bandits fled upon sensing the presence of the troops that “opened a chance for rescue operations.”

The Abu Sayyaf bandits seized Huiqe and five others including the M/V Royal 16 skipper on November 11, 2016 in the vicinity of Coco Island, Basilan province.

Huiqe is the remaining hostage among the six crew the Abu Sayyaf have seized aboard the bulk carrier.

One of his companion managed to escape; two of them were killed; and, the other two were rescued by the government troops.

The M/V Royal 16, which was loaded with cement, was sailing to Davao City from Vietnam when the Abu Sayyaf bandits, aboard on speed boat, hijacked the bulk carrier.

Medina said Huiqe was taken to a military hospital for medical check-up and debriefing prior to his turnover to higher headquarters and eventually to the government of Vietnam.

3 more MILF hurt as clash with BIFF continues in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 21): 3 more MILF hurt as clash with BIFF continues in Maguindanao

Three more Moro guerillas fighting the ISIS inspired group in Maguindanao were injured, raising to 13 the number of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members wounded in clashes with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

Hurt in the clashes in Barangay Andavit Datu Salibo, Maguindanao were identified as Misuari Mohammadi, 20; Mohidin Ahmad, 28; and Tarik Sabpa, 26. They are now confined in a military hospital here.

MILF fighters also recovered 11 improvised bombs left by fleeing BIFF fighters. The MILF said five BIFF members were killed in the firefight.

Since MILF-BIFF fighting erupted on August 10, a total of 20 MILF and 26 BIFF were killed. Thirteen MILF and 10 BIFF were also injured.

It started when the BIFF, led by Esmael Abdulmalik, former henchman of Malaysian bomb expert Zulkiflibin Hir, alias “Marwan,” set off an improvised bomb in Barangay Tee, Datu Salibo, Maguindanao that injured 10 MILF, all members of the Task Force Ittihad (Unity).

Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac, director of the Police Regional Office-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said on Monday that the MILF’s operation against the group of Abdulmalik was coordinated with the municipal police offices in Maguindanao.

The injured MILF members were under Commander Haon, an MILF sub-leader. Commander Haon and his men were going to Barangay Andavit to check on reported sightings of 20 followers of Abdulmalik preparing improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

As Haon’s team arrived, they were fired upon by BIFF members, triggering a three-hour sporadic firefight.

The recovered IEDs, according to Sindac, were handed over by the MILF to the Maguindanao police provincial office in Shariff Aguak town.

Police and military forces in Maguindanao have put up more checkpoints along the national highway and civilian communities to prevent any attempt by the BIFF to launch diversionary attacks in Maguindanao’s second district.

Sindac said among the BIFF fatalities was a certain Hamdi, son of Abdulmalik.

New radar system to boost Navy's ability to detect intrusions

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 21): New radar system to boost Navy's ability to detect intrusions

The Philippine Navy's (PN) capability to detect unauthorized entries in the country's vast maritime domains will be greatly boosted by the American-donated tethered aerostat radar system (TARS) that will be turned over on August 22.

Navy spokesperson Capt. Lued Lincuna said TARS is the PN's first self-sustained unmanned lighter-than-air system and will enhance their capability in maritime intelligence surveillance reconnaissance.

TARS will allow the PN to detect maritime and air traffic within the country’s coastal waters using sensors, he added.

Aside from protecting the country's waters from intruders, TARS can also be utilized in the conduct of humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations.

Lincuna said TARS is also equipped with a weather station that provides telemetry data to the ground station for the monitoring of ambient temperature, pressure, wind speed and other pertinent parameters in the operation of the system.

The equipment will be formally turned over by the US government to the PN during short ceremonies at the Naval Education and Training Command, San Antonio, Zambales on Tuesday.

The activity will be spearheaded by US Deputy Embassy Chief of Mission to the Philippines, Michael Klescheski and PN flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Joseph Ronald S. Mercado.

Earlier, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced that he is keen to get more modern radar systems to improve the country's maritime domain situational awareness capability.

Such capability is sorely needed on the Sulu and Celebes Sea, which is being threatened by piracy and kidnapping attacks Abu Sayyaf and other lawless elements and the eastern seaboard of the Philippines where incidents of poaching and intrusions are rampant.

Lorenzana said he is planning to include the acquisition of modern radars in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program's Second Horizon.

Maritime domain situational awareness refers to the capability to detect, monitor and if necessary, drive away intruding water craft from one's territorial waters.

The AFP Modernization Program is divided into three horizons, with the first lasting from 2013 to 2017, the second from 2018 to 2022 and third 2023 to 2028.

Slain Maute members now 583: AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 21): Slain Maute members now 583: AFP

As the fighting in Marawi is now on its 91st day, military units have so far killed and neutralized 583 Maute Group terrorists in the ongoing clearing operations.

This was revealed by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief, Col. Edgard Arevalo in a message Monday.

Troopers killed in the ongoing campaign was placed at 129 along with 45 civilians executed by the terrorists.

Some 640 firearms were recovered from the Maute Group while 1,728 civilians were rescued, Arevalo added.

Earlier, the AFP said that three of the ranking terrorist leaders, who plotted the attack against Marawi City, are still in the locality.

Latest monitoring indicated that Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, Omar and Abdullah Maute, the suspected leader of the Maute Group terrorists, are still inside the city.

Fighting in Marawi City broke out when government troops tried to arrest Hapilon and his cohorts last May 23.

Philippines: MILF seeks quick passage of Bangsamoro law

From Anadolu Agency (Aug 21): Philippines: MILF seeks quick passage of Bangsamoro law

Creation of region that will abolish, replace Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao seen as urgent

Philippines: MILF seeks quick passage of Bangsamoro law

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Sunday appealed to Congress to speed up passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which would help address the proliferation of radicalism and the crisis in Marawi.
The law came about through extended negotiations and integrated other agreements, said MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim in a statement issued to reporters.

Ebrahim said the law, which has passed so much scrutiny, has been drafted twice already.

"We appeal to (the House of Representatives and Senate). We are appealing to Congress to see the real objective of the (law)," he said.

Murad said he was surprised to learn that former president and now Pampanga Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo had submitted another version of the law.
Just recently, Arroyo filed her own version of the bill creating the Bangsamoro region in Mindanao -- a new track separate from Malacanang Palace-backed initiatives to implement a peace agreement with Muslim rebels.

The creation of the region that will abolish and replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is seen as urgent as radical extremists linked with the Daesh terrorist group are feared to be recruiting among young local Muslims.

Arroyo filed House Bill 6121, titled the Basic Act for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, which she said "truly reflects the aspirations of our Muslim brothers and sisters as well as the indigenous brethren, representation to indigenous peoples, women, the sultanates, and other key stakeholders.”
Ebrahim, however, said as far as MILF is concerned, the draft law submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte on July 17 was already a very inclusive law wherein the latter promised to support its passage.

He underscored that one major solution to terrorism and the problem in Marawi is to put in place a political solution to the Bangsamoro problem.

"That’s the only thing that can address it effectively,” he said, adding that while they were not expecting another version of the law in Congress, MILF cannot prevent any member of Congress from submitting their own bill.

He said they remain optimistic that an “undiluted” law will be passed as early as possible.

Early this month, the draft law finally reached Congress, but it has yet to be filed as a bill in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The ongoing armed conflict in Marawi began on May 23, 2017 between Philippine government security forces and militants affiliated with Daesh, including the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups.

US warship collides with tanker near Singapore; 10 missing

From WKRN (Aug 21): US warship collides with tanker near Singapore; 10 missing

In this Jan. 22, 2017, photo provided by U.S. Navy, the USS John S. McCain conducts a patrol in the South China Sea while supporting security efforts in the region. The guided-missile destroyer collided with a merchant ship on Monday, Aug. 21, in waters east of Singapore and the Straits of Malacca. (James Vazquez/U.S. Navy via AP)

A U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer collided with a tanker early Monday in waters east of Singapore and the Strait of Malacca, and at least 10 sailors are missing.

The Navy said five others were hurt.

The USS John S. McCain sustained damage on its port side aft, or left rear, from the collision with the Alnic MC that happened at 5:24 a.m., the Navy’s 7th Fleet said. It wasn’t immediately clear if the oil and chemical tanker sustained damage or casualties in the collision.

The Navy said Osprey aircraft and Seahawk helicopters from the USS America were assisting. It also said tugboats and Singaporean naval and coast guard vessels were in the area to render assistance.

Malaysia’s navy chief Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin tweeted that two ships as well as aircraft from its navy and air force have been deployed to help look for the missing U.S. sailors.

The Strait of Malacca is a narrow body of water between Malaysia to the northeast and Indonesia to the southwest, with the city-state of Singapore at the tip of the Malay Peninsula.

The collision is the second involving a ship from the Navy’s 7th Fleet in the Pacific in two months. Seven sailors died in June when the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship hit each other in waters off Japan.

The Fitzgerald’s captain was relieved of command and other sailors were being punished after the Navy found poor seamanship and flaws in keeping watch contributed to the collision, the Navy announced last week. An investigation into how and why the Fitzgerald collided with the other ship was not finished, but enough details were known to take those actions, the Navy said.

The Japan-based 7th Fleet said the McCain had been heading to Singapore for a routine port visit when the collision occurred.

The ship is based at the 7th Fleet’s homeport of Yokosuka, Japan. It was commissioned in 1994 and has a crew of 23 officers, 24 chief petty officers and 291 enlisted sailors, according the Navy’s website.

The warship is 154 meters (505 feet) in length.

The Alnic MC is a 183-meter (600-foot) oil and chemical tanker.

Abu Sayyaf member, 7 others nabbed in Sulu

From the Manila Times (Aug 21): Abu Sayyaf member, 7 others nabbed in Sulu

An Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) member involved in ransom kidnappings and seven lawless elements were arrested in separate operations in Sulu recently, a belated report that reached the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) said.

ASG member Fahar Ismael, alias Putoh Taron, was arrested at a checkpoint manned by troops of the 41st Infantry Battalion and the police in Barangay Timbangan, Indanan town on Wednesday.

Ishmael, facing a string of murder charges, is being implicated by the military in the kidnappings of Marso Salinas, an engineer, and Evelyn Chan, according to Captain Jo-ann Petinglay, WestMinCom spokesman.

Ishmael has an arrest warrant for murder as co-accused of ASG leader, Idang Susukan. He is now under custodial investigation.

Meanwhile, seven lawless elements carrying high-powered firearms were also arrested in a joint military and police operation in Lugus town on Friday.

Seized from them were rifles and various caliber firearms: three M14, two M16, and M1 Garand rifle; a .45 caliber pistol; six clips for Garand rifle; assorted magazines; 13 magazines for M16; assorted ammunition, pouches and uniforms.

Their capture and that of Ismael were not immediately made public because of ongoing operations against the Abu Sayyaf and other lawless groups.

Military and police operations continue against lawless elements in southern Philippines as part of government efforts to curb criminality and terrorism and protect the public from harm,? Petinglay said.

“Military and police operations continue against lawless elements in southern Philippines as part of government efforts to curb criminality and terrorism and protect the public from harm,” Petinglay said.

Similarly, in Sultan Kudarat, Philippine Marines backing the police provincial office served arrest and search warrants to a group of lawless elements in Kalamansig town on Thursday and arrested five suspects with assorted firearms and war materials in Barangay Ito Andong.

The target of the warrant, Tenti Taup Mangarin, listed as high-value target, however, escaped after sensing the approaching security forces.

Arrested instead were his men – Bonao Mangarin, Usop Mangarin, Mimong Agam, Osik Mangarin and Celino Ogib.

Taup is wanted for arson in connection with the burning of the heavy equipment of GEMMA construction in Kalamansig. He and his group are also reportedly engaged in piracy in the coastal municipalities of Lebak and Kalamansig.

10 dead as Abu Sayyaf raids village in Basilan

From the Manila Times (Aug 21): 10 dead as Abu Sayyaf raids village in Basilan

Abu Sayyaf militants allied with the Islamic State raided Monday a village in Basilan province in the southern Philippines, killing at least 10 people before escaping to the hinterlands, government officials said.

They said more than three dozen civilians were also wounded in the daring attack in Tubigan in Maluso town. The raiders, numbering about 40, also torched houses and a day care center before escaping.

Some of the seriously wounded victims were evacuated to a hospital in Zamboanga City. There was no immediate statement from the military’s Western Mindanao Command, but security officials previously claimed that government operations against the Abu Sayyaf have weakened the notorious jihadist group.

The attack occurred a day after naval forces rescued a Vietnamese sailor — Do Trung Huiqe — kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf off Basilan in November 2016.

The sailor, a crew member of the cargo ship MV Royal 16, was rescued on Mataja Island off Hadji Muhtamad town just across Maluso by elements of Joint Task Force Basilan headed by Colonel Juvymax Uy through Naval Task Group Basilan and Naval Task Force 61 following “a special intelligence operation.”

“The intensified military offensives caused the Abu Sayyaf (members) to flee and opened a chance for rescue operations,” said Rear Admiral Rene Medina, the regional naval forces commander.

Medina did not give details of the rescue operation. The Vietnamese sailor was brought to a military hospital in Zamboanga City where he underwent medical check-up and debriefing.

It was unknown whether the rescue operation sparked off the Abu Sayyaf attack. The group pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and vowed to pursue a caliphate in the restive region of 12 million people.

PH Navy rescues Vietnamese hostage of Abu Sayyaf in Basilan

From Rappler (Aug 21): PH Navy rescues Vietnamese hostage of Abu Sayyaf in Basilan

Vietnamese Do Trung Huiqe is a crew member of MV Royal 16 that the bandits attacked in November 2016

The Philippine Navy rescued a Vietnamese hostage of the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan in a military operation that forced the bandits to flee.

"A Vietnamese kidnap victim who had been held captive by the Abu Sayyaf Group for months was rescued by military forces on August 20, 2017 at Mataja Island, Basilan," said Rear Admiral Rene Medina, commander of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao.

Do Trung Huiqe, a crew member of MV Royal 16 that the bandits attacked in November 2016, was brought to a military hospital for medical check up and debriefing.

Two of his colleagues in the crew were beheaded in July. (READ: Abu Sayyaf beheads 2 Vietnamese hostages)

The hostage was rescued by the team of Colonel Juvymax R. Uy of the Joint Task Force Basilan with the help of the Naval Intelligence Service Group Western Mindanao.

Vietnam asked the Philippines to closely monitor its citizens following the beheading of the two crew members last month.

The Basilan faction of the Abu Sayyaf is led by Isnilon Hapilon, who moved to Central Mindanao to join the notorious Maute Group. They attacked Marawi City on May 23, prompting a war that continues to rage nearly 3 months later.
Hapilon is reportedly the Southeast Asian emir of international terrorist network Islamic State (ISIS). Hapilon reportedly failed to recruit the Sulu faction of the Abu Sayyaf Group to support ISIS.

9 civilians killed in Abu Sayyaf rampage in Basilan

From Rappler (Aug 21): 9 civilians killed in Abu Sayyaf rampage in Basilan

The attack is believed to be a tactic to divert the attention of the military from its operations in nearby areas

ABU SAYYAF ATTACK. Bandits under Furuji Indama attack the village of Tubigan in Maluso, Basilan. All photos from Richard Falcatan/Rappler

ABU SAYYAF ATTACK. Bandits under Furuji Indama attack the village of Tubigan in Maluso, Basilan. All photos from Richard Falcatan/Rappler

Nine civilians were killed and 10 others were wounded early Monday morning, August 21, when a faction of the Abu Sayyaf Group attacked the village of Tubigan in Maluso, Basilan.

Civilian volunteers from the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPAT) fought back.

The bandits also burned 4 houses and the barangay health center, based on a police report.

The attack happened between 6 am and 7 am on Monday, according to the police. It coincided with the town's fiesta celebration.

The bandits are believed to be under notorious Abu Sayyaf key leader Furuji Indama, according to a military officer.

Diversionary attack?

The attack is believed to be a tactic to divert the attention of the military from its operations in nearby areas.

The Philippine Navy rescued on the same day Vietnamese hostage Do Trung Huiqe, who was kept by the bandits on Mantaja Island near Maluso. Two of his fellow MV Royal 16 crew members were beheaded last July.

Rappler sources said there are military operations in other municipalities.

State-sponsored hate: The rise of the pro-Duterte bloggers

From Rappler (Aug 18): State-sponsored hate: The rise of the pro-Duterte bloggers

Pro-Duterte bloggers receive unusual privileges from the Presidential Communications Operations Office to consolidate support for the popular president and silence critics

  • The most high-profile, vitriolic pro-Duterte bloggers were given government positions or hired as consultants using public funds
  • Pro-Duterte propagandists are being given special treatment by the PCOO, according to insiders, which includes Malacañang accreditation, use of government resources, and cash allowances
  • An interim accreditation policy will allow pro-Duterte bloggers to continue using profanity in their posts, often targeting administration critics and media

“Leni, you are stupid. You and your whole staff are stupid. You’re all sons of bitches.”
These were the words of hardcore President Rodrigo Duterte supporter Mocha Uson during a national broadcast – directed toward no less than Vice President Leni Robredo, a leader of the opposition. Uson's hateful comments led to the cancellation of her radio show.
Another pillar of the propaganda machine, RJ Nieto, author of pro-Duterte Facebook page Thinking Pinoy, speaks in a similar vitriolic manner. In a Facebook Live Video addressing what he referred to as “the fucking Malacañang press corps” – the group of journalists accredited to cover the President – Nieto cursed at the media, and repeatedly flashed his middle finger.
“You Malacañang Press Corps, you act like you're for the Filipino people, but you're sons of bitches!” he said to the camera.
CURSING BLOGGERS. RJ Nieto, who is now a government consultant, has constantly cursed the media and Duterte's critics. Screenshot of Nieto's Facebook Live video.
CURSING BLOGGERS. RJ Nieto, who is now a government consultant, has constantly cursed the media and Duterte's critics. Screenshot of Nieto's Facebook Live video.

Bruce Rivera, a lawyer and another staunch supporter of Duterte, does not mince his words either. Addressing the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Rivera also used profanity to attack them.
“You sons of bitches, you are not above the President because he has the support of the people. So you have no right to speak to our constitutionally-elected President in such manner because we elected him and gave him the right to be bastos (rude) to the ills of this society, you included,” he said in a Facebook post.
Uson, Nieto, and Rivera are similar in various ways. Aside from their unwavering support for the President and their hateful tone and messaging, they are also bloggers that this administration has legitimized in various ways – profanity and all.
Uson has since been appointed assistant secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) on the basis of her number of Facebook followers. Duterte himself has confessed that the appointment was payment for a “debt of gratitude” for her backing his presidential bid.
Nieto has also been hired as a social media consultant by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) now headed by Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano. The former senator was Duterte’s running mate in the 2016 elections.
While Nieto did not originally support Cayetano’s vice presidential bid, the former senator strategically courted Nieto throughout the campaign, and gave him an attractive consultancy post to win his favor.
As for Rivera, he and his group, Status: Hot, appear to be easy candidates for accreditation based on the interim policy of the PCOO. The policy is the latest move of Communications Secretary Martin Andanar to legitimize blogger-propagandists who support President Rodrigo Duterte.
Under this administration, the bloggers, who refer to themselves as Diehard Duterte Supporters (DDS), are legitimized through various ways, including access to those in power, consultancy contracts, and “allowances” from the PCOO.
Sources familiar with PCOO operations said a budget has been set aside specifically for the bloggers, with priority given by Andanar to his DDS groups. The PCOO is also dependent on these bloggers to monitor and control online sentiment toward Duterte, the sources said.
It is a way to consolidate support for the popular president, harnessing influencers online much like what Duterte’s media strategists did during the presidential campaign.
“Whatever the bloggers were doing during the campaign, they’re still doing the same thing now that Duterte is president. Except now they have government support,” said a communications strategist who worked during the 2016 campaign. “It's propaganda.”
But this time, its sponsored and funded by the state.
Profanity welcome
The PCOO has also hired Carlos Munda, another Duterte supporter, propagandist, and administrator of the MindaNation website, as a communications consultant.
The amounts of Nieto’s and Munda’s government consultancies and copies of their contracts have not yet been made public, despite these being paid with government funds.
“I shall publish my contract, including details regarding compensation, on Thinking Pinoy as soon as it is available,” Nieto posted on his Facebook in early July, while talks for his role were ongoing.
“Actually, halos pang-taxi lang ang compensation, P20,000 a month lang tapos subject to tax pa yata, pero ipapublish ko pa rin para transparent.” (Actually, my compensation can barely pay for my taxi rides. Just P20,000 ($400) a month and subject to tax, I think, but I will still publish it for transparency.)
Over a month later, Nieto has yet to publicize his contract, but sources who are knowledgeable about similar government consultancies said the amount Nieto mentioned is much too small for his role, and estimated he can be paid significantly higher.
SPECIAL TREATMENT. Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar has given bloggers special treatment, often using gov't resources. Photo by Toto Lozano/PPD
SPECIAL TREATMENT. Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar has given bloggers special treatment, often using gov't resources. Photo by Toto Lozano/PPD

These insider-sources said the P20,000 amount is especially dubious since Nieto used to receive cash payments of P40,000 for past content creation jobs.
Uson and Nieto still regularly post content online, which are often filled with hate and anger directed at critics of the Duterte administration. They have also spread false accusations, and typically don't apologize for spreading disinformation.
s for its accreditation policy, the PCOO has said it won’t prohibit bloggers from using profanity online – yet another way to legitimize their hateful content and attacks. The policy will be tested over the next 6 months, managed by none other than Uson herself.
Accreditation guidelines have already seen a backlash from non-DDS bloggers online.
“Apparently, the guidelines are meant as cover/justification for the formal entry and presence of DDS Media in functions involving PRRD (President Duterte),” blogger Tonyo Cruz said on his Twitter account @tonyocruz on August 9. Cruz is co-founder of @TweetUpMNL.
“As a blogger, I reject in absolute terms the PCOO’s implication that we bloggers are a cheap and unaccountable bunch,” he said in another tweet. “In Andanar's memo, no effort is made to ensure that accreditation wouldn’t be denied on the basis of political standpoint of the applicant.”
Jane Uymatiao of Blogwatch, who has been invited to cover past government events, also tweeted through her @citizenjaneph account: “I am NOT applying for social media accreditation. Why? Bec it was not crafted with citizen engagement in mind.”
She added: “PCOO totally misses the point. We are after CITIZEN ENGAGEMENT, not tailing the President nor mere reportage. Traditional media does that already.”
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) trustee Vergel Santos had earlier expressed concern about accrediting bloggers.
“Blogging is an individualistic, free-wheeling operation – although some bloggers are known to follow common, if not collusive, lines of thinking. It’s the readiest, least discriminating (in fact, it’s open to anyone), widest-reaching, and therefore most tempting platform of free expression,” Santos told Rappler in February.
Journalism, on the other hand, is “both a profession and a trade governed by universal rules of practice and ethics and tradition,” he said. No such rules govern bloggers.
Special treatment
The special treatment given by the PCOO to DDS bloggers becomes evident especially in events that promote government programs, and to which they are often invited.
The expectation is for them to generate buzz online about government programs, and to make these trend on Twitter – a fixation of Andanar, and a measurement of success.
OPEN TO BLOGGERS. PCOO Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson's office is in charge of choosing bloggers who receive accreditation to cover President Rodrigo Duterte's events. Malacañang file photo
OPEN TO BLOGGERS. PCOO Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson's office is in charge of choosing bloggers who receive accreditation to cover President Rodrigo Duterte's events. Malacañang file photo

The DDS bloggers who faithfully attend these events and craft pro-government posts are treated well in exchange, insider-sources said. Andanar, according to a source who is familiar with his strategy, said, “He makes sure they are taken care of when they come to events.”
During the Dutertenomics forum hosted by the PCOO in April, for example, the favorable treatment accorded the DDS bloggers was apparent. Organized in partnership with the Department of Finance, the forum discussed the government’s infrastructure programs that seek to fuel economic growth.
In that forum, the bloggers were invited by the PCOO and were given a table to work from – unlike mainstream media.
“They’re always separated from regular media,” said a PCOO insider. “They’re given tables and mobile or pocket wifi.”
At the end of the event, the bloggers were also given an “allowance” of a few thousand pesos each, said another source familiar with the transaction.
‘So much power’
“Internally, the budget is often referred to as ‘pampakain (food budget) for our online friends’ or ‘allowance for our online friends,” the PCOO insider said.
“To be sure, these DDS bloggers will support the President whether they are paid or not. But some individuals have used them for personal motives and for political ambitions.”
GOV'T RESOURCES. Status:Hot bloggers use RTVM resources for their global DDS party. Screenshot of livestream from Status:Hot Facebook page
GOV'T RESOURCES. Status:Hot bloggers use RTVM resources for their global DDS party. Screenshot of livestream from Status:Hot Facebook page
In China and Singapore, pro-Duterte bloggers were able to ambush-interview the President in his hotel while Malacañang reporters were prohibited by the Palace’s Media Accreditation and Relations Office from doing this. Flouting such Palace rules could get Malacañang members barred from coverage.
Even before the Dutertenomics forum, DDS bloggers were given accreditation by the PCOO to join the Philippine delegation to some of the President’s foreign trips – an unprecedented move.
Sources we spoke to repeatedly expressed concern over the growing influence of DDS bloggers in Andanar’s office.
“They have so much power with the PCOO,” one of them said. “It's concerning.”
One insider agreed, “They also prioritize DDS bloggers over media."
Just over the weekend, the PCOO even offered government resources for a DDS thanksgiving party, organized by one of the pro-Duterte bloggers. The event was led by Rivera, who posted on his Facebook wall: “Thanks to the PCOO, Martin Andanar and Pebbles Duque for helping us with the broadcast of the event to the Philippines.”
News of Rivera and his group using government resources triggered a backlash, to which Rivera responded, “I am asking this basic question. What authority did Status: Hot usurp?”

“And whose authority are we undermining? Si Martin Andanar ang head ng PCOO so sino ang sinuway namin? (Andanar is the head of the PCOO, so who did we defy?)”
Rivera himself admitted using government resources offered by Andanar for broadcasting purposes.
“And for the record, the only time we used government resources is when we used the PTV studio for the SONA (State of the Nation Address), the time we used the ASEAN studio in Conrad and the RTVM coverage sa DDS Thanksgiving,” he wrote.
PTV refers to Peoples Television, RTVM refers to Radio-TV-Malacañang. These, along with the ASEAN activities, are funded by taxpayers' money.
Yet despite Riveras own admission of Andanars permission to use PCOOs resources for past events or panel discussions, Andanar denied it when asked by Rappler.
“It was a DDS worldwide event. It wasnt broadcasted, he said, referring to the event on August 12.
He added, “We dont have a budget for bloggers,” also denying any allowances being given to bloggers, or any special treatment being accorded them.
But at the Philippineshosting of ASEAN’s 50th anniversary in early August, the influence yielded by the blogger-propagandists was most noticeable: pro-Duterte bloggers were given accreditation and access to cover the event.
ACCREDITATION. Malacañang offers media access to pro-Duterte bloggers under a 'DDS' organization. Photo sourced from Facebook
ACCREDITATION. Malacañang offers media access to pro-Duterte bloggers under a 'DDS' organization. Photo sourced from Facebook
Early this month, photos of pro-Duterte bloggers’ ASEAN media IDs went viral online – raising questions about the PCOO’s vetting process for media qualifications. While veteran bloggers – even before the DDS came to be – have long asked for access to presidential events under this administration, it was the PCOO itself that willingly offered them access. With priority, of course, given to the DDS bloggers.
IDs issued to online supporters of the President identified bearers as “Media” with a more specific designation of “DDS Philippines” or “Social Media Philippines.”
After the controversy blew up online, Andanar, in an interview on radio station dzRH on Monday, August 9, defended the IDs and said bloggers and “social media
influencers” were told to register online through a system of accreditation which also applied to mainstream media.
What accreditation?
But in a post by Rivera, who was accredited with a DDS Philippines badge, Rivera said they didn’t really need accreditation.
“And why do we need accreditation. We are bloggers. As the name implies, we blog. We post opinions, commentaries and literary work. WE DO NOT PRESENT THE NEWS. We are not a news outfit,” he said in a Facebook post on August 7.
“Hence we have no obligation to be impartial, objective and straightforward. It is about opinions. So why do we need accreditation?”
The accreditation, according to insiders, was pushed by the PCOO, and personally facilitated by the PCOO’s Pebbles Duque, who made sure DDS bloggers had access.
Aside from ascertaining they received media badges by endorsing them to the ASEAN National Organizing Committee (NOC), she also directly assisted them in broadcasting live from the Conrad hotel.
“The go-to person for bloggers is Pebbles Duque,” one of the insiders said. “She is Andanar’s trusted aide when it comes to social media operations.”
In another Facebook post, Rivera thanked Duque specifically for the unprecedented access given to DDS bloggers, specifically for his group, Status: Hot.
PROFESSIONAL SET-UP. The broadcast set-up prepared by PCOO for DDS bloggers. Photo from Pebbles Duque Facebook page
PROFESSIONAL SET-UP. The broadcast set-up prepared by PCOO for DDS bloggers. Photo from Pebbles Duque Facebook page
He wrote on August 6, “Come to think of it...MJ Quiambao Reyes, Rocky Gonzales, Francis Manalo and Mamshies (aka Renewel Basa), we are officially the first social media bloggers allowed to broadcast a live video in ASEAN history. Times have changed. Pebbles Duque, you rock!”
MJ Quiambao-Reyes, also a self-identified Duterte supporter, commented on the post as well. She thanked Duque for serving as “exec producer, director, writer” of their live panel from ASEAN. 
The post was accompanied by a link to the livestream of the panel, wherein the group sat on a professionally set up, makeshift studio – built and run through government funds.
(To be concluded)